CAN BAD SEX RUIN A GOOD RELATIONSHIP?
Just as great sex can prolong an unhealthy relationship, unsatisfactory sex can sadly torpedo a good one. Sexual incompatibility and bad sex (which I believe is often but not always a matter of incompatibility anyway) can and have ruined many great relationships. Bad sex can come in two forms; either it's just mismatched sex, for example, you have kinks that your partner doesn't, your partner likes activities you don't, or you're both not aligned on how often to have sex. And sometimes it's one person being intimidated or extremely sexually insecure, being unwilling or frightened of new things, or simply not being invested in the other person's pleasure. Without sex or a lack of sex, couples tend to report feeling like roommates rather than partners.
The positive news is that we can take these scenarios and view unfulfilling sex as a warning sign rather than a stop sign. If you find yourself in this situation don't be disheartened, your relationship doesn't have to fall by the wayside, especially if you've got a good thing going. Sometimes when we're in our heads we can magnify an issue, eventually allowing it to overshadow the positives in a partnership. Understandably many people worry about hurting their partner's feelings — particularly if it has something to do with the amount of pleasure (or lack of) they're experiencing! Others might simply find the topic awkward in general, possibly due to the fact that they didn't grow up in an environment where sex was discussed so openly. Being able to communicate and listen carefully (especially around sensitive subjects) is such an important relationship skill. Developing this ability means you and your partner are in a better position to clear up any potential issues with your sex life, or even get to a point where you're having mind blowing sex! And who doesn't want that? There are no hard rules when it comes to discussing sex, but two key factors that will steer you in the right direction include being honest, and being kind. Many sex therapists have said that feedback or requests should be worded in a way where you're expressing what it would mean to you, for example, "I really like ... but I'd love it if we could spend a little more doing ...", rather than "We never do ...". That way, your partner is less likely to feel attacked or hurt — and recognise that, essentially, you're expressing something about yourself — a want or a need that you have.
For relatively new couples, I think there's no harm to start talking about sex early on in a relationship, or least when you're at the point where you've established trust and intimacy. The longer you wait to have the conversation, the harder it will become! It can feel a bit scary to dive straight in and start talking about fantasies and desires, so perhaps take a "softer" approach by addressing topics such as contraception and sexual boundaries. Once a level of comfort has been built up, you can move on to what feels good, what doesn't, turn ons, turn offs, and go from there. On the other side of the spectrum, sex can fizzle out when you've been in a relationship for a long time. Some of these couples find themselves falling into a sexual routine, therefore going into auto-pilot by default. As we all know, auto-pilot only means you're zoned out, not present, not in the moment, and probably not actually enjoying it. This is where being more experimental, really tuning into all your senses, communication (of course), and possibly introducing a sex therapist could come in handy! Whatever stage you're at in a relationship, it's a known fact that intimacy acts as glue in relationships. By nurturing the different types (emotional, physical, intellectual, recreational, and spiritual), you feel more connected, happy, and cared for. It's worth pointing out that you may need to have a few chats and not just one long conversation to address this area of concern. It's definitely not a one-time thing and should be an ongoing discussion and a normal part of your relationship. Rest assured, there is still hope if couples are willing to put in the work.